VIVENDI Water, the worlds largest water company, plans to start commercial production of recycled sewerage water using membrane technology in Malaysia if the feasibility tests currently being carried out prove successful.
The French water giant, which is already involved in more than a dozen local projects including the second phase of the Sungai Selangor water supply scheme with Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd, said it was studying the local market for potential customers and primary users who might benefit from a recycled sewerage water project it was undertaking with various local partners.
Executive director of the groups Malaysian engineering subsidiary VWS South East Asia Sdn Bhd, Gilles Bacquet, said there was potential for the group to increase its investment in Malaysia once the technical viability and affordability of recycling and reusing sewerage water was established.
He told reporters this in Kuala Lumpur yesterday after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Vivendi and its local partners, including Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Indah Water Kon- sortium Sdn Bhd (IWK), Malaysian Water Association and the Sewerage Services Department of the Housing and Local Development Ministry, to evaluate the suitability of using membrane technology for recycling water in Malaysia.
The French group is committing some RM500,000 in the first year of a research project, whose first phase is expected to be completed by year-end. Laboratory tests currently being carried out at UTM will graduate to more detailed performance ap- praisal and economic assessment of the project at a pilot treatment plant which is being designed and in- stalled at the IWK sewerage treatment plant in Shah Alam this month.
In parallel (with the research), we hope to initiate some commercial operations. Some customers might be willing to invest in this technology to lower their own operating costs, Bacquet said, adding that the system was expected to reduce costs substantially for some users, particularly in industrial ap- plications. It is understood that the first customers to be targeted are those around the Shah Alam industrial zone.
UTM vice chancellor Datuk Prof Dr Mohd Zulkifli Mohd Ghazali said the collaboration between his university, Vivendi and the other parties was to determine whether this leading edge technology could be successfully used under the conditions and environmental constraints prevailing locally.
The membrane technology is currently already being used by Vivendi in Europe, the US and most recently in Singapore to treat and recycle wastewater.
Zulkifli said the existing use in Malaysia of treated water meant for drinking for other purposes such as landscaping and industrial production was wasteful and expensive. It is not sustainable in the long term.
He added that there were many potential users of this technology to produce water of a sufficiently high quality for non-drinkable applications such as in industrial and agricultural use.
Zulkifli stressed that there was no plan to recycle sewerage water into drinking water at this stage as there was still sufficient water resources for that purpose in Malaysia.
Malaysia Water Association president Datuk Syed Muhammad Shah- abudin said that if the tests proved successful, the next stages of development would be to include the participation of the water supply au- thorities and departments.
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